THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), the newly formed peak body representing Australia's 5 million recreational fishers has asked the federal Government for caution in approving applications for the 140 metre super trawler the FV Margiris to fish Australia's waters.
A statement released by the ARFF says Australia has the best fisheries management system in the world and a sustainable commercial and recreational fishery to be proud of. But the FV Margiris is the second largest super trawler of its kind in the world and it is unknown how its operations will affect the management system or the existing sustainable commercial and recreational fishery.
ARFF spokesperson, Allan Hansard, said:
"At an aggregate level the science tells us that the Margiris is likely to have minimal impact on total fish stocks. However, we are concerned about the potential of localised depletion of fish stocks and the resulting economic and social effects on local coastal communities. The science seems to be anything but definitive on this issue.
"If the Margiris positions itself off Coffs Harbour, Bermagui, Portland or St Helens and extracts large quantities of bait fish, what will be the environmental, economic and social impacts?
"What guarantees will we have that the marine food chain will not be affected?
"What will be the effects on the local communities that rely on recreational fishing?"
"We presently don't know the answers to these questions but it is essential to know them before any decision on the Margiris is made.
"Unfortunately the public debate on the Margiris is already filling with emotion and misinformation and the facts are getting lost. There is also a lack of leadership in establishing a proper 'facts based' process to make a decision on this national issue.
"ARFF calls on the Federal Minister for Fisheries to convene an urgent meeting with the fisheries management authority, appropriate scientists and key stakeholders to establish a factual basis and a process to decide whether the Margiris should be allowed to fish in Australian waters. Until this happens the Margiris should not be allowed to fish our waters."
The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) is the newly formed national peak body representing Australia's Recreational Fishing Community and is supported by the Australian Fishing Trade Association (AFTA), Recfish Australia, Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA), Sunfish Queensland, Amateur Fisherman's Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT), Recfishwest, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW (RFANSW) NSW, Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman's Association (USFA); and the Australian National Sportfishing Association (ANSA), Professional Fishing Instructors and Guides Association (PFIGA).